Phyllis Newman

Vivacious American actress and singer Phyllis Newman (b. Jersey City, NJ, March 19, 1933) has been a Broadway staple for more than fifty years, appearing in some of the great classics of musical theatre (Wish You Were Here 1952, Bells Are Ringing 1956–1959,  The Apple Tree 1966, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, replacement 1973) and winning a Tony Award® for Best Featured Actress in 1962 for Subways Are For Sleeping. She has also worked extensively in series television both as a regular and as a guest star.

Phyllis Newman was voted “Future Hollywood Star” by her graduating class at Lincoln High School in Jersey City. She made her Broadway debut in Wish You Were Here in 1952 and went on to serve as a standby for Judy Holliday for nearly four years in Bells Are Ringing. In 1960 she married Adolph Green, the creator, with Betty Comden, of some of Broadway’s and Hollywood’s most memorable scores (including Bells Are Ringing, Wonderful Town, On the Town, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and On the Twentieth Century). The marriage was to be one of the most durable in theatre history, ending only with Green’s death in 2002.

The next Comden and Green musical, Subways Are for Sleeping (1962), starred Phyllis Newman and won her the year’s Tony®, beating out formidable competition – Barbra Streisand in I Can Get It for You Wholesale. In subsequent years, Newman sang as an alternate for Barbara Harris in The Apple Tree (1966), in a revival of On the Town (1971), and in The Prisoner of Second Avenue (replacing Lee Grant in 1973). In 1979, she wrote a one-woman show with Arthur Laurents, The Madwoman of Central Park West, featuring songs by Leonard Bernstein, Comden and Green, Kander and Ebb, Stephen Sondheim and herself, among others. Newman was Nancy Marchand’s standby in Awake and Sing! in 1984, and Broadway Bound brought her another Tony® nomination in 1987. She has starred in two special Broadway benefits, one of her own creation in 1979, V.I.P. Night on Broadway, the other with Angela Lansbury in 1996.

Newman has made seventeen feature films, among them Let’s Rock (1958), Bye Bye Braverman (1968), The Beautician and the Beast (1997), A Price Above Rubies (1998), and The Human Stain (2003). On television she has guested on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965), Burke’s Law (1965), Quincy, M.E. (1976), thirtysomething (1989, 1990), and Murder, She Wrote (1991). In 1987 she created the role of Rene Buchanan in the soap opera One Life to Live and was a regular on the primetime series 100 Centre Street (2001–2002). In the heyday of television panel game shows, she was ever-present on To Tell the Truth, Password, What’s My Line?, and Match Game, and she was the first woman ever to substitute for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1962.

Phyllis Newman is a survivor of breast cancer. In 1995 she launched the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative of the Actors’ Fund of America, and has raised over three and a half million dollars with her annual “Nothing Like a Dame” gala benefit. She has two children, Adam and Amanda Green.

Newman has the distinction of being the only Tony Award® recipient who was ever “streaked” at her Awards ceremony by a naked man on the run. 

– LEC